So let's recap:
- Killer whales can learn new tricks, and teach them to other killer whales just like humans teach each other.
- It's long been known that chimpanzees can use tools, but now we've seen that not only can birds use them too, but they will actually make their own tools.
- Dolphins are altruistic, and have even been seen to save humans in trouble.
- Bonobos and other monkeys have been able to learn to use symbols to communicate with humans at a 2½ year old child level.
- No animal has ever detonated a nuclear device.
It seems to me that the line between "us" and "them" is getting blurrier and blurrier every day. Every time an argument is made that trait x or ability y "sets us apart" from the "lower species", someone finds an animal that can do it.
We used to think it was language, but clearly other species can use language to communicate. We used to think it was tool usage, but even bird-brains have now been shown to make and use tools. We used to think it was our moral sense, but clearly animals express and feel our same range of emotions, both positive and negative.
Inevitably we retreat each time another conceit is knocked down, hiding behind more and more desperate rationales, deathly afraid of losing our moral superiority, until finally we have to resort to a flat declaration of unimpeachable faith to justify our domination of and superiority over other animals. "We're better becase we have a soul and they don't, even though we're alike in every other way" is pretty thin justification for how we treat them.
I've never understood the kind of person who only feels worthy by putting others down, as if insulting and degrading someone else inevitably raises their own value. It doesn't. All we really succeed in doing, like cruel sorority sisters demeaning the rejected pledge, is harming ourselves.